Notebook: Vikings still like Webb

The Vikings will probably draft a quarterback and maybe even sign a veteran, but there are indications they like Joe Webb more than some people think. Plus, the first pick in the draft could determine the quarterback movements in the two to three rounds.

Conventional wisdom is that the Minnesota Vikings will either draft a quarterback or acquire a veteran, or both, before the 2011 season starts. And that is probably the case. But the new offensive staff, coordinator Bill Musgrave and quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson, haven't been so fast to completely write off second-year veteran Joe Webb, who started the Vikings' final two games of 2010, and posted a 1-1 record.

Given the lockout, the staff's assessment of Webb has come largely from videotape, and Musgrave and Johnson have seen a little more, Vikings sources contend, than Webb is credited with by his critics. That's the opposite, it seems, of the group's collective assessment of Tarvaris Jackson, who might be an unrestricted free agent, depending on the resolution of a CBA.

It's already been decided that Webb will remain at quarterback, not be shifted back to wide receiver, the position for which he was drafted to play. Because of the lockout, Minnesota coaches can't have any contact with Webb, but there are signals the youngster will strongly consider hiring a quarterbacks coach in the offseason to help him with mechanics and some of the position's finer points.

Trickle down: Teams that require a quarterback, and there are plenty of them in the league, will pay extra heed to what the Carolina Panthers do with the first pick overall on April 28. Because the direction the Panthers take with the top choice – and rumors that the club has settled on Cam Newton to the contrary, Carolina personnel folks contend the decision remains among a subset of prospects, and that there are still a handful of possibilities – could determine a lot about how and when some teams will have to react to fill their quarterback needs.

One team that figures to grab a quarterback in the second or third round, for instance, noted to The Sports Xchange this week that, if the Panthers tab a non-quarterback with the first pick, it might signal that Carolina plans to snatch a passer at the top of the third round. The Panthers do not have a second-round pick, having shipped it to New England last year to move up and take wide receiver Armanti Edwards in the third round. And that could precipitate a wild scramble among those clubs that have targeted a quarterback in the second or third stanzas.

"The thinking in some spots will be, 'Well, we've got to get ahead of Carolina (with the first pick in Round Three),' and that might mean having to force your way into the bottom of the first round or reacting in the second to get your guy," said one general manager. "On the other hand, if Carolina takes Newton (first), you could see a little bit of a run (on quarterbacks). Either way, it's probably going to mean that some quarterback with a second-round grade squeezes into the first. Or some guy you might have waited to take in the third round goes (in the second). In a lot of ways, what Carolina does is a big tip-off key."

Amazingly, given the need for quarterbacks in recent seasons, there have been only 21 second-round passers chosen total in the last 20 drafts. Only twice in that period have more than two quarterbacks gone off the board in the second round, and there was actually a stretch of four years, 2002-2005, when there were zero second-round quarterbacks. It hasn't been a particularly good round for drafting quarterbacks, but that figures to end this year.

Losing through winning: There is a growing cadre of veteran players who, while hoping that Judge Susan Nelson somehow finds a way to end the lockout, and allows them to return to work, remains wary of some of the ramifications. If the lockout ends, and the NFL returns to work under the 2010 rules, which seems likely, it would retain the system that requires players to have six accrued seasons in the league before qualifying for unrestricted free agency. Many players chafed under the guidelines for an uncapped campaign – the former requirements for unrestricted free agency were four seasons in the league – and the unhappiness over a similar arrangement would not dissipate.

"As badly as we all want to go back (to work) ... some of the rules just don't flush for a certain pool of guys," said one NFC player with five seasons in the league. "It's the old, 'be careful what you wish for' deal."

Boling can ball: Since most general managers and personnel directors profess to have 80 or 85 percent of their master draft board completed, with many allowing there is only some "tweaking" still to be performed, we're not buying into the popular assumption that there remain some prospects who can make a major "rise" up the ranks in the final three weeks. That said, note Georgia offensive lineman Clint Boling as one guy who could go off the board earlier than some observers expect. In fact, one AFC team has Boling rated as a possibility to still sneak into the very bottom of the first round, although the second is more likely. Kind of a "tweener" prospect, most teams project Boling as a guard, but still feel he can play some tackle if necessary in the NFL.

"He's got some (warts), and his strength isn't what you want it to be ... but you can't ignore the versatility," said an AFC scout.

Boling, who started 50 games for the Bulldogs, might be able to play anywhere but left tackle on the offensive line in the league. That kind of flexibility doesn't always get a guy drafted higher, but it "can't hurt" Boling, the scout agreed. On the slip side, Boling's former Georgia teammate, Justin Houston, might be hurt a bit by the indecision over whether he is best suited to playing end in a 4-3 front or outside linebacker in a 3-4. There is no denying Houston's explosiveness off the edge and his closing speed on the quarterback. The questions: Is he big enough to hold up at end in a 4-3, and fluid enough for the 3-4 linebacker spot. The knee-jerk read on Houston is that he should be able to project to the latter. But he has rarely been asked to drop and cover. And even teams like Pittsburgh, noted through the years for turning undersized ends into linebackers, require James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley to shift from primary pass-rush responsibilities to cover once in a while.

Right direction: During a 12-year NFL career that included 122 sacks, former Arizona and Tampa Bay defensive end Simeon Rice liked to joke that he was only a "short-timer" passing through the league, and that he had bigger plans for his like. Like designing clothes, writing screen plays, and directing movies. Last month, the colorful Rice debuted his first movie effort, a 27-minute work titled "When I Was King." Described as a "comedic romp" that details a man's effort to juggle four women he is dating, the movie earned solid reviews, not so much for its concept or content, but for the professionalism with which it was produced. The success was enough to have Rice – one of the most honest players in the league during his career – apparently starting work on a full-length feature. A 2009 graduate of the New York Film Academy, Rice, 36, seems to have found his post-football calling at a time when a lot of his peers are still struggling to locate theirs.

The last word: "Remember when (coach Jon) Gruden used to say I was 'out there' a little bit? Well, he was probably right. But in this (endeavor), I fit." – Rice, on his new career as a filmmaker


Viking Update Top Stories

\r\n\r\n","mobileBody":"Conventional wisdom is that the Minnesota Vikings will either draft a quarterback or acquire a veteran, or both, before the 2011 season starts. And that is probably the case. But the new offensive staff, coordinator Bill Musgrave and quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson, haven't been so fast to completely write off second-year veteran Joe Webb, who started the Vikings' final two games of 2010, and posted a 1-1 record. Given the lockout, the staff's assessment of Webb has come largely from videotape, and Musgrave and Johnson have seen a little more, Vikings sources contend, than Webb is credited with by his critics. That's the opposite, it seems, of the group's collective assessment of Tarvaris Jackson, who might be an unrestricted free agent, depending on the resolution of a CBA. It's already been decided that Webb will remain at quarterback, not be shifted back to wide receiver, the position for which he was drafted to play. Because of the lockout, Minnesota coaches can't have any contact with Webb, but there are signals the youngster will strongly consider hiring a quarterbacks coach in the offseason to help him with mechanics and some of the position's finer points. Teams that require a quarterback, and there are plenty of them in the league, will pay extra heed to what the Carolina Panthers do with the first pick overall on April 28. Because the direction the Panthers take with the top choice – and rumors that the club has settled on Cam Newton to the contrary, Carolina personnel folks contend the decision remains among a subset of prospects, and that there are still a handful of possibilities – could determine a lot about how and when some teams will have to react to fill their quarterback needs. One team that figures to grab a quarterback in the second or third round, for instance, noted to The Sports Xchange this week that, if the Panthers tab a non-quarterback with the first pick, it might signal that Carolina plans to snatch a passer at the top of the third round. The Panthers do not have a second-round pick, having shipped it to New England last year to move up and take wide receiver Armanti Edwards in the third round. And that could precipitate a wild scramble among those clubs that have targeted a quarterback in the second or third stanzas. \"The thinking in some spots will be, 'Well, we've got to get ahead of Carolina (with the first pick in Round Three),' and that might mean having to force your way into the bottom of the first round or reacting in the second to get your guy,\" said one general manager. \"On the other hand, if Carolina takes Newton (first), you could see a little bit of a run (on quarterbacks). Either way, it's probably going to mean that some quarterback with a second-round grade squeezes into the first. Or some guy you might have waited to take in the third round goes (in the second). In a lot of ways, what Carolina does is a big tip-off key.\" Amazingly, given the need for quarterbacks in recent seasons, there have been only 21 second-round passers chosen total in the last 20 drafts. Only twice in that period have more than two quarterbacks gone off the board in the second round, and there was actually a stretch of four years, 2002-2005, when there were zero second-round quarterbacks. It hasn't been a particularly good round for drafting quarterbacks, but that figures to end this year. There is a growing cadre of veteran players who, while hoping that Judge Susan Nelson somehow finds a way to end the lockout, and allows them to return to work, remains wary of some of the ramifications. If the lockout ends, and the NFL returns to work under the 2010 rules, which seems likely, it would retain the system that requires players to have six accrued seasons in the league before qualifying for unrestricted free agency. Many players chafed under the guidelines for an uncapped campaign – the former requirements for unrestricted free agency were four seasons in the league – and the unhappiness over a similar arrangement would not dissipate. \"As badly as we all want to go back (to work) ... some of the rules just don't flush for a certain pool of guys,\" said one NFC player with five seasons in the league. \"It's the old, 'be careful what you wish for' deal.\" Since most general managers and personnel directors profess to have 80 or 85 percent of their master draft board completed, with many allowing there is only some \"tweaking\" still to be performed, we're not buying into the popular assumption that there remain some prospects who can make a major \"rise\" up the ranks in the final three weeks. That said, note Georgia offensive lineman Clint Boling as one guy who could go off the board earlier than some observers expect. In fact, one AFC team has Boling rated as a possibility to still sneak into the very bottom of the first round, although the second is more likely. Kind of a \"tweener\" prospect, most teams project Boling as a guard, but still feel he can play some tackle if necessary in the NFL. \"He's got some (warts), and his strength isn't what you want it to be ... but you can't ignore the versatility,\" said an AFC scout. Boling, who started 50 games for the Bulldogs, might be able to play anywhere but left tackle on the offensive line in the league. That kind of flexibility doesn't always get a guy drafted higher, but it \"can't hurt\" Boling, the scout agreed. On the slip side, Boling's former Georgia teammate, Justin Houston, might be hurt a bit by the indecision over whether he is best suited to playing end in a 4-3 front or outside linebacker in a 3-4. There is no denying Houston's explosiveness off the edge and his closing speed on the quarterback. The questions: Is he big enough to hold up at end in a 4-3, and fluid enough for the 3-4 linebacker spot. The knee-jerk read on Houston is that he should be able to project to the latter. But he has rarely been asked to drop and cover. And even teams like Pittsburgh, noted through the years for turning undersized ends into linebackers, require James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley to shift from primary pass-rush responsibilities to cover once in a while. During a 12-year NFL career that included 122 sacks, former Arizona and Tampa Bay defensive end Simeon Rice liked to joke that he was only a \"short-timer\" passing through the league, and that he had bigger plans for his like. Like designing clothes, writing screen plays, and directing movies. 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